Joe Smith Jr. Defend against Steve Geffrard on January 15

WBO light heavyweight world champion Joe Smith Jr will defend his first title against an unlikely opponent. British boxer Callum Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19, so Smith will now face Steve Geffrard on Saturday, January 15 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino and LIVE on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (airs on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.

In the 10-round feature, featherweight contender Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs), who was originally slated to take on Jose Enrique Vivas, will take on Dominican veteran William “El Gago” ” Encarnacion (19-1, 15 KOs) after Vivas retired due to injury.

Smith said: “I give Steve credit for being in this fight for so short a time. “He is a tough guy, and I hope he will give everything he has to this opportunity. I am ready to fight no matter who is in the ring with me. My goal, too, is to defend my world title and keep it on Long Island, where it belongs.”

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Geffrard said. It’s crazy how boxing works. One moment I was thinking about boxing on a local show, when the phone rang for my chance to compete for the WBO world title on ESPN. Unreal!”

Smith (27-3, 21 KOs), Long Island’s fighting pride, won the championship last April with a decisive majority against Maxim Vlasov. His scheduled return in October was postponed due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, and when Johnson was out, he turned his attention to Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), one 31 years old from Miami, Florida.

Geffrard is a nine-year professional who has won 18 consecutive matches since starting his career 0-2. He lifted his record to 18-2 last March, winning eight decisive rounds against longtime rival Denis Grachev. Geffrard had a fight scheduled for January 8 in Delray Beach, Florida, but “South Florida’s Cinderella” jumped at the chance to take on Smith after eight days.

Promoted by Top Rated, alongside Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, ticket Priced from $49 to $89 is currently on sale and can be purchased at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office, charged by phone by calling 800,771.7711, or online at Ticketmaster.

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